How Do You Identify Hobgoblins?

Ross Mckittrick made an interesting point in the Financial Post today.


The reference is to the industrial reolution, the Covid response, and the approach to climate change.

Covid and Climate Change are disssimilar

Some are making the point the world can act decisively to minimize a threat and the approach to Covid shows it would work for climate change too. There is little similarity between the two but when making false arguments, that is not to be noticed.

Covid not a systemic thing. It will be controlled by vaccines and treatment protocols. Many will be harmed before that happens but it will come under control and our experience with it will be useful when the next one comes along.

And it will.

Climate change and the industrial revolution

Ross makes the point that the people knew about pollution and its affects by 1800 but chose industrialization anyway. They suffered through smog, soot, health and other problems for a long time but eventually the problems were overcome by technology.

In economically advanced countries today, the air and water are in very good shape.

People’s ingenuity solves problems. Eventually. The problem with the climate change problem is the need for speed to fix it. Assuming it can be fixed at all, suppose like the air and water quality issues of the industrial revolution it takes a century or more.

Would the solution be less valuable?

Not likely. The only risk to employing evolving technology instead of destroying the economy we know, is the possibility of a tipping point. Some point beyond which no recovery is possible.

Is there such a point? Quite likely. Venus after all is the poster child for adverse climate. Its atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide. Little chance of that here. We would be all gone long before. At concentrations in air beyond 10% people begin to have convulsions, followed by coma and death. I wonder how Venus got to 96%.

Nonetheless a tipping point is possible and using our current lifestyle as the model, there should be objective research as to where it is and how it may occur.

Emphasize growth in the Covid restart

Growth provides resources to address our well-being. I think it is safe to say that ecological purity is a luxury good. Eventually India and China will find they can afford it and they will move towards it. Other countries will benefit form the investment in the technology and will achieve the goal more quickly.

People will put up with hardship to provide for a better future. They won’t put up with hardship to solve a problem where the solution perpetuates the hardship.

Always bet on human ingenuity and growth as a reservoir for the wealth needed to change.

Other things we have learned

Politicans advance their own agenda at every opportunity. “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” The tendency to exploit a crisis is natural for them. Without crises there would be little need for government beyond a basic system of laws, courts and objective enforcement, sanctity of national borders, an innocuous way to raise the minimal money they need, and provision for national defense.

All their other actions are to speed things up. Development of culture occurs regardless of government action. Just more slowly and in more appropriate ways. Justice is an illusion that they attach to while fair and polite are doable in the marketplace of human activity.

Governments want more power.

Power is antithetical to freedom and democracy. Large governments are not people friendly.

Politicians seize power when possible. Our prime minister attempt to seize the ability to tax and spend without parliamentary oversight (while a minoirty government) through the end of 2021 is an example. The inane gun control legislation another. Use the crisis to divert attention and enshrine a position while people are looking elsewhere.

Governments are showing their true colours. I suspect there are insightful chimpanzees commenting on how their evolution experiment has turned out less well than expected.


Trust the people to get it right. Trust the people to develop the resources needed to achieve just and useful goals. Trust the people to be persistent in so doing.

Impatience is not a virtue in matters that take a long time to develop. You cannot pass legislation to force corn to grow to maturity in 10 days. Complex change has its own pace and all the rules and money int he world won’t alter that.

In the interim notice H.L. Mencken’s thought:

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

Sorting hobgoblins from reality is hard but necessary work. Start by assignning an agenda to each new story and government action. Assess the importance of the action proposed, the time frame, and who benefits. You will find most of the news is not worth your trouble to watch and little of what the government does provides lasting benefit to you and your family.

I help people understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve and exceed their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages. The result: more security, more efficient income, larger and more liquid estates. Please be in touch if I can help you. 705-927-4770

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